EAU CLAIRE — After getting your first COVID-19 vaccine, you were probably handed a small paper card, issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, bearing evidence that you received the shot.
Tuck it in your wallet, store it with your medical records, even laminate it if you wish, local experts say — just don’t post it on social media.
“You certainly don’t want to have your name and birth date and some of your personal identifying information out there where someone could take that information,” said Pamela Guthman, a UW-Eau Claire assistant professor of community, public and population health.
Your vaccination card likely lists your name, date of birth, the date of your COVID-19 shot and the lot number of your vaccine.
People will receive their card at their first vaccine appointment, and should bring it with them to their second appointment.
But though experts say you should keep your card off of Facebook, it’s still important to keep it around.
“It may be helpful to keep a photo copy also in a safe place, or take a photo on your phone as a backup if needed,” the Eau Claire City-County Health Department wrote in a statement to the Leader-Telegram.
Guthman encouraged people to keep their card with them if they’re traveling, or with their health records when they’re not.
People can get their cards laminated, but they may not want to quite yet, since COVID-19 booster shots might be recommended later, Guthman said. Drug makers Pfizer and Moderna, creators of the two most prevalent COVID-19 vaccines being used in the U.S., have said it’s likely people who got their shot will need another booster shot at some point.
“Since we’re still learning so much about COVID-19, and now we have variants that have surfaced, you may want to hold onto it and not necessarily get it laminated at this point in time,” Guthman said.
Vaccination cards aren’t a new idea in public health, Guthman added.
“Before we had significant databases, (vaccination cards) were always a medical record, so to speak, of your vaccines,” she said.
Before health records were stored online, people used vaccination cards to record their vaccines, such as their tetanus, polio or measles-mumps-rubella immunizations, she noted.
“Vaccination cards are certainly nothing new to us,” Guthman said. “They’ve always been used as a health record.”
Why return, at least temporarily, to using physical cards as evidence of COVID-19 vaccination? Guthman attributes it to the vaccines’ relatively speedy timeline, coupled with potential trouble with mass data entry, considering the huge volume of Americans getting vaccinated in 2021.
“The cards are a way to have something in your hand, something you have the ability to access at the moment,” she said.
The Better Business Bureau warned that if people post their vaccination cards online, scammers can take advantage. Fake and counterfeit vaccination cards have been found for sale online, the bureau said, adding: “Posting photos of your card can help provide scammers with information they can use to create and sell phony ones.”
If someone loses their card or didn’t get one at their vaccine appointment, they should call the site where they got their vaccine to request a new one, the Health Department said.
People can also print off a version of their vaccination card at the Wisconsin Immunization Registry’s website, the Health Department said. To access the WIR online, visit dhfswir.org.
The WIR keeps a record of Wisconsin residents’ immunizations, including COVID-19 shots. People can access their vaccination record at its website.
‘Vaccine passports’ a hot debate
The Biden administration has indicated it won’t require so-called vaccine passports, a way to provide evidence that someone has received a COVID-19 vaccine.
At a news conference in early April, Andy Slavitt, acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said he considered them a project for the private sector, not the government.
Airlines and the tourism industry, hard-hit by the pandemic, have called for a way to certify people’s vaccinations.
But the idea of vaccine passports has met with criticism from Wisconsin Republican lawmakers.
Wisconsin GOP legislators have drafted several bills that aim to prohibit requiring vaccine passports in the state, the Capital Times in Madison reported. Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson also criticized the concept of vaccine passports last week in an interview with a conservative talk radio host, saying, “I certainly am going to vigorously resist any kind of government use or imposing of vaccine passports.”
President Joe Biden has said the government is considering federal guidelines to steer the process surrounding vaccine passports. Among its concerns: Not everyone who would need a passport has a smartphone; passports should be free and in multiple languages; and private health information must be protected.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.